Front Royal and Manassas, Virginia
The Bull Run Regional Library provided material from the R. Jackson Ratcliffe book This was Manassas, which contains a history of Eastern College, along with two photo scans.
Eastern College had been founded at Front Royal, VA in 1902. Like many schools at the time, Eastern attempted to attract a number of different clientele. School ads in the Richmond Times Dispatch list collegiate, academic, preparatory, business, music, arts, drawing, elocution and normal programs. The “no hazing” policy figured prominently in the ads.
Following a fire that destroyed one of the main buildings, Eastern College moved to Manassas in 1909, occupying the Baldwin House and part of the Manassas Improvement Corporation building until new buildings could be constructed. There, it soon enrolled 184 students—many local but others representing 22 states and two foreign countries. The World Almanac for 1919 lists enrollment at 175 with 30 more “in colors.”
While the school was non-denominational, it had a College Christian Association. There were two literary societies—Washington Irving and Jeffersonian. With a conservatory of music, Eastern featured recitals as well as debates during commencement week.
Ratcliffe noted that the school was “financially burdened,” and the “demands of creditors" forced closure in 1920.
Bricks and Mortar
According to Ratcliffe, Eastern College was able to borrow money for the construction of two matching buildings—East and West Halls, built at the south end of Battle Street. Each building was four-story red brick, containing space for classrooms, offices and dormitories. The alumni and town provided funds to build a gymnasium, also completed in 1910. Baldwin House housed the music department.
Buildings were leased to the government for barracks during World War I. Renovated, the buildings were used only briefly before the War ended, and they were returned to Eastern College.
After the college closed, buildings were leased in 1921 for use by a college—also named Eastern College—for young women. That school closed in 1922 and the buildings were sold at auction in 1923. From 1924 until 1935 they were used by the Snavely School for Boys.
The buildings then reverted to the county, which tried to use them for a vocational school but found them unsuited. The buildings were then abandoned until a series of fires led to their being razed in 1966.
Colors: Red and White.
Eastern College began playing both baseball and football while still at Front Royal. The 1902 football schedule included Washington and Lee, Augusta Military Academy, and Charleston, WV. When the school shifted to Manassas, newspaper accounts noted the strength of schedule which now included George Washington, Mount St. Mary’s, St. John’s (MD), VMI, Georgetown and Maryland Agricultural College (now the University of Maryland).
Intercollegiate Athletic Calendar reported that football had been abolished at Eastern College after the 1909 season and was not resumed until 1916. That team won three games and lost three—defeating Randolph-Macon, Gallaudet and Augusta Military while losing to Georgetown, Western Maryland and George Washington.
The College Football Data Warehouse shows that Eastern had an undefeated season in its last season, defeating Gallaudet, Blue Ridge (MD) College, Manassas Football Club, Shenandoah Military Academy, and Richmond Athletic Club.
Baseball was the signature sport for Eastern College. Their 25-game schedule each spring included not only Virginia-Maryland-District of Columbia colleges but also visiting clubs such as Fordham and Pennsylvania from the upper East.
Eastern had a ladies' basketball team at least as early as 1905.
1916 football team. (Intercollegiate Athletic Calendar, HathiTrust Digital Library, <babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015070150316;view=1up;seq=193>) accessed 11-13-2017
View of the four building of the Eastern College campus at Manassas. The gymnasium is to the left, and Baldwin House sits between East and West Halls. (Photo courtesy of the Bull Run Regional Library)